How to turn a a very run-down 5-storey Victorian house that had seem better days into a guest-friendly home full of warmth and personality? Paul and Tim solved the dilemma by removing walls and adding natural texture and luxe comfort
'I love cooking – it’s something that makes me feel human,’ says interiors photographer Paul Craig, who is quick to get into the kitchen as soon as he returns from a long day’s shooting. ‘However busy I have been, I instantly start to unwind here and feel relaxed.’ Currently cooking his way through Anna Jones’ veggie-centric recipe book, ‘A Modern Way to Cook’, Paul doesn’t just prepare dinner for his husband, solicitor Tim Dawson, but also for the steady stream of friends that pop by for just an evening or family members from Australia who settle in for a longer stay. ‘We really do love entertaining,’ says Paul.
So the opportunity to buy a larger house close to their existing home in Brixton, with plenty of room to accommodate all those guests, was too good to miss. Despite its seriously dilapidated state, including gaping holes in the roof, the couple were undeterred and brim-full of design ideas thanks to Paul’s day job. ‘It’s probably just as well that we were carried away with enthusiasm, because it did turn out to be a massive project,’ admits Paul of the total restoration of every part of the 19-room three storey Victorian house, including digging out the basement to install a cinema room. They also added an extension to the rear of the property and removed internal walls on the ground floor to design the entire area as a series of separate, but linked, living, dining and cooking spaces that flow easily from one to another.
‘I love photographing kitchens and I’m always trying to shoot something different and exciting,’ says Paul. So, as you might imagine, he was keen to find something unusual for the kitchen cabinetry, working with Neil Norton Design to track down some richly patterned and specially smoked ash burr veneer, which is laser cut to dramatic effect. The warmth of the veneer is contrasted with cool granite surfaces, which are as practical and hardwearing – for all that cooking and entertaining – as they are beautiful. Metal elements introduce an industrial mood, while velvet, wool and leather in the seating areas offer luxe comfort.
Now the house is always busy – whether for location shoots (a five day cocktailmaking film is currently underway) or for an action-packed visit from nephews Mackenzie and Eddie, or just a few friends round for one of Paul’s veggie suppers. ‘We use this space all the time, which says everything really,’ adds Paul.
Kitchens from Neil Norton Design start from £30,000.
Photos by Paul Craig.
Article by: Amelia Thorpe